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Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank
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Tar Heels Stomp Out UCSB’s Win Streak

No. 1 North Carolina lives up to its ranking and runs away from the Gauchos in 105-70 rout.

UCSB, streaking to national prominence with a 10-1 record and eight wins in a row, met the real thing Saturday in front of 20,000 fans at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill: the North Carolina Tar Heels. Driven by Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams’ firm direction, UNC extended its undefeated season to 11-0 with a thorough 105-70 drubbing of the Gauchos.

Williams — who had said he was “embarrassed about the way we played” in an uninspired 10-point win over Nicholls State on Wednesday — decided to motivate his talented Tar Heels with pain and perspiration to prevent a recurrence. He ran them hard, very hard, to “see how many guys I can make throw up” in Thursday’s practice. He got their attention, and Saturday they kept running … right on past the Gauchos.

UCSB head coach Bob Williams noted that the athleticism of top-ranked North Carolina was an eye opener for the ambitious Gauchos.

“They exposed us in a lot of ways. They exposed our rebounding. They exposed our ball handling," he said. "Most important they exposed our transition defense. We consistently couldn’t get to it and defend. We can find a lot of areas to grow in from this kind of game.”

The Gauchos knew going in that North Carolina was fast and athletic, and tried to prepare. “They were just more athletic than us at every position,” Williams admitted. And that turned into fast break after fast break — accent on the “fast."

The Tar Heels outscored the Gauchos in the paint, 72-20, with most of those coming from converted steals or breakaway opportunities off of rebounds. They out-rebounded UCSB, 57-30, on the night, with 27 offensive boards. When the Gauchos defenders would get a piece of a shot, invariably a quicker, stronger Tar Heel would recover the ball and convert. They shot 57 percent from the floor on the night to UCSB‘s 36 percent.

The three-point shot, the Gauchos’ forte, remained so in Chapel Hill. UCSB had hit 33 of its last 50 three-point attempts and led the nation in percentage at .454. Alex Harris (3), James Powell (3), Ivan Elliot (2) and Jordan Weiner (2) all hit from deep Saturday, but UCSB’s 38 percent shooting from the arc wasn’t nearly enough to stave off the relentless UNC onslaught.

The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Tyler Hansbrough, one of the nation’s best, gave UCSB’s big man, Chris Devine, huge helpings of trouble all afternoon. Hansbrough held Devine to six points while scoring a game-high 21 of his own. And a slew of rebounds and scrambles with Gauchos ended up in the powerful hands of Hansbrough.

The domination was a team transaction. Ty Lawson (15 points) blew past Gauchos repeatedly for layups on breaks, as did Wayne Ellington (17) and Marcus Ginyard (17). Together, they extended the 52-32 half-time lead to 30 points midway through the second half, and kept it there.

The Gauchos’ taste of big-time East Coast competition was nonetheless, according to Williams, “a great atmosphere, and the kids enjoyed it.” But after the game he was less than buoyant. “I wasn’t pleased with anyone’s game," he said. "Despite their points, James (Powell) and Al (Harris) were two of the breakdowns on the defensive end. We know we’ve got work to do.”

UCSB, now 10-2, has one more nonleague game, next Saturday on the road against Eastern Washington, to get it right. Then they will kick off Big West Conference competition at the Thunderdome against Long Beach State on Jan. 3 followed by Cal State Northridge on Jan. 5.

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